The Netflix Files: “Virunga” is planet of the (bipedal) apes

Ranger Station

One of Virunga National Park’s ranger lookout stations.

Virunga National Park is home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas. Located in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga faces threats from poachers, armed rebel groups, refugees, and an unscrupulous British oil company, all of whom are competing for the park’s precious mineral resources. The documentary film Virunga (available on Netflix) follows the intrepid park rangers as they struggle to defend the park and its gorillas.

Virunga’s park rangers can only be described as militant conversationalists. They have to be in order to hold any power in a region infamous for its violent clashes between armed rebel groups from the Congo and neighboring Rwanda. The opening scene of the film finds a legion of rangers trekking through a field with AK-47s slung across their backs and rocket launchers swinging at their sides. Gunshots explode in the distance, and the rangers charge through the brush with guns at the ready, looking more like an advancing army than a group of friendly naturalists. The rangers find an improvised poachers’ camp and burn it. Continue Reading